Ever tried to track down a slow water drip? Sure, big leaks are easy to find. But smaller ones can seem impossible to find.
The problem is that the water will drip from the lowest spot it runs along, which is usually NOT where the leak is. You reach and you feel along – is it wet there? Or is it just that my fingers were wet from the last spot I checked?
Dave came up with a great way to track leaks. He uses small pieces of a paper towel, taped in place or even cable-tied around hoses at intervals. Let them sit for anywhere from a few minutes to an hour, depending on how big the leak is.
Check back, working from the lowest point and going up. The leak is above where the paper towel pieces are wet, and below where they are dry. If you’re tracking a rain leak, you may have to track it partway, find where the water is dripping from above, then work upwards from there to find where it’s coming from (in one case, we back-tracked a leak about 8 feet, from a puddle on the floor to a lip on a cupboard, back along the counter, up to another lip and over several feet to a hatch with bad weatherstripping). With water hoses, you can usually pinpoint the leak at a fitting, although occasionally you’ll find a hose that has chafed through.
There are all sorts of potential water leaks in a boat – the freshwater system, engine water, washdown pump, watermaker, bilge pumps, hatches, and ports. Whether for comfort or safety, leaks can’t be ignored. Considering that they are often easier to fix than to find, Dave’s trick has considerably cut the amount of time that repairs take!
Be sure to subscribe to The Boat Galley newsletter to keep up with what we’re up to and get helpful tips and encouragement from the water.